It seems that, every time I search for my ancestors bearing this surname, there is a different spelling *sigh*. Sometimes it is used as a middle name on a death certificate, where it didn't appear on the birth certificate. It makes searching for a brickwall ancestor very frustrating. But when it comes to the surname's religion...
Johanna YATES (or YEATES or YEATS) was born in 1808 in Chudleigh (my ggg grandmother). Or it might have been Colridge. Or Coldridge (even the town can't make up its mind how to spell its name!). Her mother, Sarah, was unmarried at the time of the birth - and has vanished ever since, so maybe she married another man and I haven't discovered her new surname. It will probably be something unusual, like JONES in Wales *genealogical cringe*... Sarah was christened in 1780 like many of my ancestors, as an Independent. Later members of the family were described as Congregationalist. From Wikipedia:
"In English church history, Independents advocated local congregational control of religious and church matters, without any wider geographical hierarchy, either ecclesiastical or political. Independents reached particular prominence between and , in the period of the English Civil War and of the Commonwealth and Protectorate, wherein the Parliamentary Army became the champion of Independent religious views against the Anglicanism or the Catholicism of Royalists and the Presbyterianism favoured by Parliament itself.
The Independents advocated freedom of religion for non-Catholics and the complete separation of church and state. During the First Civil War, an alliance between supporters of the "War Party" led by John Pym and moderate MPs brought the Independent faction to prominence in Parliament. The Independents favoured confrontation with the King and an outright military victory rather than the negotiated settlement sought by the Presbyterians of the "Peace Party". The Independents actively supported the military alliance with Scotland in and the re-organisation of the armed forces that resulted in the formation of the New Model Army in . After Pride's Purge, the so-called Rump Parliament of around fifty Independent MPs sanctioned the trial and execution of King Charles in January and the creation of the republican English Commonwealth."
Johanna married into the MURCH family, who had been Protestant Dissenters for well over a hundred years. In fact, looking into the religions of these families is proving to be almost as interesting as finding them was in the first place.
In 1972, three-quarters of the Congregationalist church merged with the Presbyterian church to form the United Reformed church. About 600 Congregationalist churches, however, continued to be Independent. Or independent. It would be interesting to find out if Chudleigh/Colridge/Coldridge is one of them.
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